The Iron Dragon: The Courageous Story of Lee Chin

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The Iron Dragon: The Courageous Story of Lee Chin

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
In 1866, twelve-year-old Lee Chin arrives in California with hundreds of other Chinese workers to build the transcontinental railroad. Put to work as a mess attendant, Chin learns English thanks to his friendships with American photographer Clay McGee and cook Bossman. Chin's white friends help him raise the funds to free his sister, who has been sold into slavery by his father, demonstrating to readers that foreigners could achieve the American Dream—as long as they ignored the thousands of other Chinese of this period, who were discriminated against, assaulted, and in some cases murdered by Americans. While Pryor does show Chinese workers being insulted and abused by whites (including a scene where a foreman threatens to—but does not—whip Chinese workers), Chin's positive relationships with Americans convince him America is a great place for a new life. (Apparently, Chin is unaware of the fact that most Chinese workers suffered from dangerous working conditions and lower wages than white workers). Yet what is most distressing is the author's portrayal of the Chinese. Although most of the immigrant workers are decent and hard working, many are distrustful of non-Chinese to the point of xenophobia while others (like Chin's father) are gambling addicts. At one point, Pryor inexplicably brings up the then-outdated Chinese practice of foot binding. By juxtaposing unsympathetic Chinese characters with their virtuous American friends, the author gives readers a skewed perspective on both cultures. At best, the book offers an unrealistic account of theChinese immigrant experience—at worst it promotes harmful perceptions of Chinese people. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Lee Chin, his father, and his cousin Yi have come to America to help build the transcontinental railroad. After a harrowing Pacific crossing, Lee Chin is placed as a cook's assistant in a Chinese labor camp. He is a bright, hardworking, observant person who dreams of using his earnings to rescue his little sister, Sunshine, who has been sold into slavery by his father. Lee Chin finds that Americans can be both inhospitable to the Chinese and capable of kindness. He describes the hard and dangerous work the Chinese do for the Union Pacific Railroad. Yi is killed in an accident involving the use of nitroglycerin during the work on the Summit tunnel. Lee Chin's tale is compellingly told as he shows imagination and tenacity, befriends Americans, and makes the best of the opportunities offered to him. Historical information is accurate and honest about the period depicted.—Kathryn Kosiorek, formerly at Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780766033894
  • Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Series: Historical Fiction Adventures Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.83 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.56 (d)

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